“While welcoming the commitment to an electoral reform process, the EFM noted from its meetings with both government and opposition, as well as other groups, that political polarisation in the country is high and increasing,” European Union Follow Up Mission states in its Full Elections Observation Follow Up report.

They furthered that there is a need to build trust in the impartiality and integrity of the electoral management bodies and the judiciary which according to them includes the appointment of impartial senior staff in constitutionally independent bodies, particularly NEC and PPRC Commissioners, which were raised by many interlocutors as a systemic issue as having undermined trust in the political and electoral process in this and previous administrations.

“NEC is in the process of implementing several institutional reforms, including in its structure, staffing, policies, communications and other areas including improving its approach to gender issues and its policies concerning persons with disabilities,” the report noted.

But the report further revealed key recommendations related to electoral management, which are designed to improve the integrity, accuracy, and transparency of elections, have not been implemented in by-elections since the EU EOM report in 2018.

That some of the recommendations on election management remain under consideration by NEC, but NEC has not yet presented plans to improve the fundamental integrity of electoral results.

Salone Times Newspaper reports that, they noted that the implementation by NEC of key EU EOM recommendations on electoral management would be instrumental in building trust towards the integrity of the electoral process but that there is still sufficient time to address electoral challenges and implement reforms before the 2023 elections, though the remaining time is limited, and the issues involved pressing.